Simon Kerrigan: Bowler looking to turn the tables after last year's ordeal

England need a spinner but will they pick left-armer again after he was mauled by the Australians in the final Test of last summer? Stephen Brenkley finds him in upbeat mood

England are searching desperately, frantically for a spinner. There are three weeks before the first Test of the summer and the selectors are still weighing their options about who should succeed Graeme Swann – a part-timer, another off-breaker, a slow left-armer, a mystery spinner if only there were one.

There are plenty of options, which in a way merely emphasises the paucity. The man who played in England's last home Test match and is therefore technically still in possession in this country is Simon Kerrigan. He was a surprising choice to play in the fifth Test of the Ashes last summer and about 15 minutes after his initial involvement he seemed staggering.

As soon as Kerrigan took the ball that morning to bowl to Shane Watson there was an ominous feel to proceedings. Kerrigan looked tiny against the booming Australian giant at the other end. The history of David and Goliath provided cause for English hope but only for about three balls.

Watson came at Kerrigan and Kerrigan had no answer. A full toss was followed by a long hop. From his first two overs in Test cricket, 28 runs accrued. Six of the balls were struck for four. The ball cracked off Watson's bat. From putting his faith in Kerrigan as early as the 21st over of the match, his captain Alastair Cook could hardly bowl him thereafter.

In total Kerrigan bowled eight overs for 53 – he did not bowl in the second innings as Australia looked for quick runs and a declaration – and, one mournful shout for lbw apart, he never remotely threatened. It is pleasing to report he seems fully recovered. He is ready for more.

"No doubt about it, for the three or four weeks after, I was devastated," he said, recalling the occasion. "It's what you dream of doing and it couldn't have gone much worse than it did unless I'd got a first-baller or dropped a few catches. You process it a bit, your mind gets to a more level state, you get over the devastated feeling a bit and learn lessons from it."

It is easy to say that the selectors made a mistake by picking Kerrigan for what was his first match at The Kia Oval. It was plain for all to see. They did not fail because he was not up to the job – which he was not – but because he was not in form.

In the weeks before the match, Kerrigan, comfortably the leading English spin bowler in the Championship in the past two seasons, had been struggling for rhythm. His action was not exactly falling apart but bad habits had crept in, which meant a rampant Australian with points of his own to prove was never likely to be threatened.

"My head was a little bit scrambled when I went into the Test match because of the couple of weeks before," he said. "I still knew that even when I'm not at my best I can still get wickets. Even though I had doubts – but I guess everyone has doubts when you go on to a new stage – I had confidence in myself because I had always found a way when I had been out of rhythm before.

"It was just the way it came about, a combination of circumstances, a perfect storm. I could have easily bowled at Chris Rogers for my first three overs, bowled straight with a leg-side field, got a few singles and found my rhythm. But what happened was that I bowled one ball at him and I couldn't get Watson off strike. I knew he was always going to go hard at me, but I couldn't manufacture the circumstance. I'm sure if I went there again I would have a better way to go about it."

Kerrigan spent the early part of the winter working on the flaws in his action with Peter Moores, then the Lancashire coach and now with England, and John Stanworth, the county academy director. It entailed putting more impetus into his run and changing the position of his back foot.

He followed that by going on the England Lions tour of Sri Lanka, where he finished as joint leading wicket-taker and bowled with real purpose in the third of the three A Tests. It made him feel much better about life.

Were Kerrigan not to be given another opportunity it would be a harsh judgement on a slow left-arm spinner who was 25 earlier this month.

Whether now is the time for him to be recalled may be doubtful but if England think he is their man – and Moores will know him better than any other coach in the land after being with him throughout his county career – it might be wiser to include him sooner rather than expect him to do the business immediately when Australia are in town again next year.

Kerrigan is hardly the beau idéal of a left-arm spinner, being around 5ft 9in with short fingers. But he has guile, aggression, can turn the ball and uses his wrist to garner action. He became a spinner partly out of necessity when the swing disappeared from his medium-pace trundlers as a 16-year-old.

It seems hard to equate the assured individual doing the talking at Liverpool Cricket Club in Aigburth with the apparently diffident soul who was plundered so mercilessly by Watson. Perhaps it is because a beautifully sunny day always puts the assertiveness into a spinner's soul, perhaps because it was at Aigburth where Lancashire did so much in 2011 to win their first County Championship title in 77 years and where Kerrigan took his career-best 9 for 51 to give them a crucial win in their penultimate match. He has had a steady start to this summer.

"There is a shortage of spinners," he said. "England have got to pick the right person, they have got to have faith in the person they're picking. I would like it to be me and I've got to prove that to the selectors."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Sport
Lionel Messi looks on at the end of the final
football
Extras
indybest
News
Richard Norris in GQ
mediaGQ features photo shoot with man who underwent full face transplant
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell